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Apple's intensely moving film about a teen with autism

Technically Incorrect: Dillan Barmache is 16 and lives in California. He describes his life as "hell" and "lonely."

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


dillan.jpg

One teen's struggle to communicate with the world.

Apple/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

He was "that kid."

That's how Dillan Barmache's therapist and communication partner Deborah Spengler describes their first meeting.

In her field, he was that kid who was "the most challenged."

In a film released by Apple to coincide with Autism Acceptance Month, Spengler and Dillan's mom Tami Barmache describe what learning to live around a non-verbal autistic teen is like.

You have to forget your standard notions of what communication really means. Just because someone isn't making eye contact with you, it doesn't mean they don't hear you or understand you.

"If you're just going off of what you see on the outside," says Tami Barmache, "the assumption is often that there's a lack of intelligence."

She says of her 16-year-old son: "Not being able to speak isn't the same as not having something to say."

Dillan types to communicate. Software on his iPad translates his typing into words.

This helps him tell the world what he's feeling. What he's feeling isn't always good. He describes autism as "lonely" and "hell."

But this isn't a pessimistic film.

Indeed, if you're not moved to at least the trace of tear entering your eyes, I'll be surprised.

In 2014, Dillan gave a graduation speech at school. He clearly strives every day to live and to communicate.

This film is a fitting and beautiful tribute to his fight to be heard.